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Old 10-28-2019, 07:30 PM
28 posts, read 13,347 times
Reputation: 26


We are planning to put an offer on a single family house in Kirkland that was built in the late 60s. Most everything has been upgraded at some point. It looks really nice. The one major issue with the house is the septic system. It appears to be original so it is about 40+ years old.

We will have an inspection done soon, but we will not have enough time to so a septic inspection. They have an offer review date of Wednesday and the listing agent already said that they got couple of offers that waived inspection. Is it a good idea to waive inspection for septic? The seller is very old and does not have much data on the condition of septic. The sellers did not even have any data on septic system and its size. We had to pull it from County records. The home is close to 1500 sqft and they have a 900 gallon concrete tank. Is that typical for a 1500 sqft size?

Our research has indicated that the average lifetime of a septic system is around 40 years and that it is generally recommended to replace it every 40-50 years. It seems likely that if we buy this house, we will have to replace the septic system sooner rather than later.

All the homes on the block are on septic (about 10 homes) and it is not possible (very expensive if possible) to connect to public sewer. How big of a deal is buying a home that is on septic? Is it typical that septic needs replacement in 40 years?We really like the house but we are afraid we might be getting into a financial sinkhole with a 40 year old septic. Also, even if the septic is in a good condition now, how big of a deal will it be if we ever want to to sell the house with a 50+year old septic?

Last edited by uday029; 10-28-2019 at 07:31 PM.. Reason: Added more details.
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Old 10-28-2019, 07:42 PM
8,163 posts, read 3,670,132 times
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Sewers are costly. Your sewer bill is usually higher than the water. Make sure they pump The tank out before closing. I think your question would be best answered by a sewer professional.
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Old 10-28-2019, 08:39 PM
Location: Seattle
6,160 posts, read 4,894,006 times
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I have definitely found that listings I have with septic tanks are harder to sell than with ones with sewers, especially in cities/towns where most of the homes have sewers. That being said, septic systems aren't inherently bad, certainly replacing a septic system is more affordable than installing a brand new one.
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Old 10-28-2019, 09:08 PM
Location: Rochester, WA
6,566 posts, read 3,719,572 times
Reputation: 17886
Septic tanks are the norm in rural areas. We don't have sewers.

Septic inspection addendums are standard and customary, required in some counties, and usually inspected while being pumped.

No, I would not skip that, even if the seller won't pay for it... do it. Check the condition of the tank and baffles. Make sure it's not leaking, sometimes they crack and need to be repaired. And if it's a concrete tank that is 30 years old, it may need to be repaired or replaced. It's not the end of the world to replace a tank, but it is about $5000.

Drain field repairs also can be an expense. Better to know about it and do it now, than wait til it's backing up, right?

Learn how to take care of the system, and hopefully it will continue to last for decades to come. No... it would not be a dealbreaker for me, I'd rather be on septic than sewer.
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Old 10-28-2019, 10:29 PM
720 posts, read 710,068 times
Reputation: 1091
Check with the city of Kirkland what their current laws are on septics. I had a septic in Bremerton. Because of all the water surrounding the city, they had decided that any septic that had to be replaced had to be built as mounded septic (clay soil) with an alarm. My neighbor was caught trying to dig an additional drainfield and was forced to put in one of these unsightly septics. It looked like they had a huge mound in their front yard and every time we had a long hard rain the alarm would go off (there really wasn't much that could be done), which was really annoying to all of the neighbors. It cost at least $20K to put in. We also couldn't hook up to Bremerton's failing sewer system.

My advice would be to know what it would look like if you ever had to replace it and have the money available if you have to build an expensive new system.
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